Two-time James Beard Award nominee Chef Erik Niel, owner and Executive Chef of Easy Bistro & Bar in Chattanooga, Tennessee wowed the crowd at the second Eat Y’all CONNECT Dinner with Simmons Catfish as a featured ingredient that wowed all in attendance.

{ Second Stop: Chattanooga, TN }

On April 29, Eat Y’all hosted the second dinner in our Spring 2018 CONNECT Dinner Series at Easy Bistro & Bar in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Chef Erik Niel is the owner and Executive Chef of Easy Bistro & Bar and served as host chef for this event. Southern grown and made ingredients were the highlight of the evening as we sought to support our mission by bringing farmers, makers, chefs and the community to the same table to share an amazing meal.

{ Simmons Catfish: From Chef Camp to CONNECT Dinner }

Our CONNECT Dinner Series as well as Eat Y’all Chefs Camps are a perfect illustration events support our mission. We have worked with numerous farmers and makers over the years to put their produce and products into the hands of chefs and consumers. Simmons Catfish in Yazoo City, Mississippi is one of these farms. A third-generation family farm located in the heart of the fertile Mississippi Delta, Simmons Farm is dedicated to raising and processing the world’s highest quality catfish.

Eat Y’all Spring Chef Camp at Simmons Catfish in Yazoo City, Mississippi

In March, several leading chefs from across the South, including Chef Erik Niel, attended Chef Camp in the Mississippi Delta, and as part of the itinerary, they toured the Simmons Catfish farm and processing facility. Chefs saw first hand the hard work and attentive care required to produce the crisp, clean fillet that will wind up as a dinner special in their restaurants. This first hand experience adds a new respect and understanding for the farming process that is inevitably carried back to the kitchen. On this particular trip, Niel and other chefs toured the farm guided by Harry Simmons and his daughter, Katy Simmons Prosser.

Fast forward to a crisp April evening in Chattanooga without a piece of farm equipment in sight. It’s the evening of the second Eat Y’all CONNECT Dinner and Chef Erik Niel is in the kitchen of Easy Bistro & Bar busily preparing for the night’s event. As diners file into the relaxing, modern atmosphere of the restaurant, the kitchen team is assembling the menu. In Chef Erik Niel’s hands are an abundant supply of fresh Simmons Catfish. He is face to face with the fish that just a month ago he observed swimming in the clean, clear waters of a Delta pond. This is the moment we work for on a daily basis: a talented chef and a locally grown, family farmed ingredient connect. Chef Niel was astounded by the care and labor he observed at Simmons Catfish, and he discovered a new favorite item for his menus in the process. He was able to share the farm’s story with attendees at the CONNECT dinner and create instant fans for Simmons Catfish who gave rave reviews for the sweet, flaky fried catfish dinner he served.

{ Thank You }

The CONNECT Dinner in Chattanooga was a great success. A portion of proceeds benefited Atlanta-area charity The Giving Kitchen. We continue to be grateful for the famers, food makers, chefs and restaurant staff that have played a vital role in helping us to carry out our mission of connection. To help us continue our mission, we invite you to join The Table at Eat Y’all, a membership community with a shared interest in supporting the best Southern grown and made food farmers and makers.

Easy Bistro and Bar is located at 203 Broad Street in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The restaurant and bar is open for business Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m.; on Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. and 5 p.m until 10 p.m.; Sundays from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. Reservations are available through Open Table or by calling 423-266-1121. For more details, visit the website at easybistro.com.